I can do this.
I can do hard things.
I’ve made a life-long practice of doing hard things and being courageous.
I’m having to give myself this pep-talk because I’m currently in something of a triggered state.
Here’s the background for that. I was thinking about the whole situation with H and how these random mood and anxiety spikes are so brutal for me to go through – and had the idea that maybe I should go ahead and talk to him, after all. If the worst case scenario happens and he rejects me, then I will just have one steady-ish emotion to deal with instead of spiking between highs and lows.
So, let him know I don’t want him to realize 20 years from now that I’m into him, and ask him if he’d want to go on a date with me after things settle down a little. He’s a genuinely good person and I feel odds are decent he wouldn’t choose to end the friendship even if he’s not interested. I also don’t think he’d go back on his offer of an emergency loan in the event my husband files earlier than agreed.
A wasn’t around, so I messaged M (Indy), to ask if she had time for me to run something past her. She did, and she pretty much instantly said she thought it was a good idea. She presented things from an angle I wasn’t expecting – that I wasn’t being fair to myself to let the emotions keep massing until the point a rejection would be even more painful.
I didn’t entirely agree with everything she said on the subject of friendship (she thinks when men and women are friends someone catching feels is nigh-inevitable, and I think that number is probably skewed by the amount of people that become someone’s friend -because- of underlying attraction to begin with, as well as being influenced by social conditioning. I don’t think it’s a biological inevitability). Anyway that’s a tangent. Moving on.
A came back and I ran the idea past her and – she said she thought it might be a good idea. That made my anxiety spike right away – I hadn’t expected M and A to both say it was a good idea straight away. I’d asked each of them because I see them as intuitive and insightful but having very different personalities, and I hadn’t been expecting them to just agree right off the bat like that.
But A said she thought it sounded reasonable and thoughtful. The previous times when I’d said maybe I should just tell him it was out of despair and basically a self-harm impulse – when I felt out of control with my entire existence and hey, at least there was one thing I could do even if it was hurting myself.
I switched back and forth between the conversations, and M and I discussed how I should have some things in place to help me deal with painful emotions if rejection was what happened. That was definitely a good idea, and I’m going to put some thought into what I have lined up. If my worst case scenario happens I won’t be able to look to A or H to help me through this one.
A was finding the subject triggery and needing to back away from it – she said it felt like she needed to talk about literally anything else. I felt bad about that because I should have thought of that sooner – she’s been stuck in an area where her options to date are nearly nonexistent, and hasn’t been able to leave yet due to chronic health issues and finances. Even though she’s no longer interested in H herself, it had brought up memories of being rejected by him years ago and the fact that she was still single, which is a big sore spot for her.
I apologized and we switched to talking about Dragon Age: Origin for a little, which I’d picked up via a steam sale after A and H recommended it.
M and I were still chatting a bit, too, and I talked to her about some insight I’d had. I have whined sometimes about how I wish I could just indulge in vices and make stupid, bad decisions because trying to make good decisions took me to a terrible place, anyway – but how when I looked back over the last year, I could see I’d made a lot of good decisions, small and large, and those decisions were now yielding tangible, positive results.
The difference, I believe, is that last year I started making decisions that were good -for me- instead of decisions I believed were right based on what God, my family, my husband and my religion wanted from me. M was basically typing out the same thing, said differently, about how she’d had similar experience with a similar conclusion.
It’s something I need to keep fixed in my mind. Make good decisions for me, and I have evidence those decisions will yield growth and have a positive impact.
So, I’ve resolved on a course of action that could definitely make my life harder, but it seems like a reasonable choice to make at this time and under these circumstances.
I’d mentioned earlier being in a somewhat triggered state – I recognized fairly quickly what it was. It’s the sickening anxiety, guilt and shame I would feel as a child whenever something had been weighing on my conscience and I was feeling like I needed to confess. It’s a feeling that continued into adulthood and has cropped up here and there over the years.
It was easy enough to see why it was there. Something has been weighing on me, I’m planning on “confessing” (but can’t do so yet, have to project it out to next month when I should see H in person, as this is an in person kind of conversation) and I’m feeling anxious about the outcome. I don’t feel assured of affirmation. My brain has seized on remembered patterns in order to produce what it feels is the appropriate response – aka the easy, programmed response.
That led me to question how I could handle these feelings – shift them – dig into my psyche and find a way to counter them. What did I fear as a child and what did I need as an adult? I started to think about how this kind of sickening fear wouldn’t have taken hold as a child if I’d believed a positive response waited for me when I confessed whatever had been causing me shame. Affirmation.
That led me to realize perhaps that is the way to work with my psyche, to start undoing the programmed response and build something new. If I get the outcome I want, that is affirmation. Nothing further needed. If I don’t get the response I need, that’s rejection, definitely not affirmation – but maybe I can set something up to receive affirmation for the action itself. Look, I did something courageous. I walked through my fear and took a risk. Just because this result wasn’t the one I wanted doesn’t mean I’m not worthy.
I deserve to be loved and treasured. Circumstances might mean I don’t get what I deserve, but those are circumstances and not a reflection on me.
I ended up popping over into the group chat with J, A and M to discuss my thoughts. How we’d been raised with beliefs that told us we were fundamentally flawed, unworthy, undeserving – how we don’t see the world that way, though. We think all children deserve to be safe and loved and treated as individuals with inherent value.
Further, there’s no shame in needing and wanting things. The only shame is when the things we need or want are withheld out of malice and selfishness. We (those of us in the group chat) wouldn’t judge someone for needing health care and not getting it – we’d assign shame to the system that denied them that care. We wouldn’t judge someone for needing health care and not getting it because science hasn’t advanced enough to cure or treat their condition. So if we could extend that worthiness, that lack of shame, to people on a macro scale, why not a micro scale for ourselves?
I think humans start inherently deserving of good things. I think when a human chooses to be a terrible person they can lose that status of deserving, but it’s there to start. We were told we started undeserving and that’s just not true. No child starts undeserving.
I deserve to have my needs met, even if they’re not met. There’s no shame or unworthiness IN ME if my needs aren’t met because they can’t be, or because someone else withheld what I needed.
I forgot to publish this last night. I did manage to keep myself fairly calm and resolute throughout the evening. Of course, then I woke up at 4am and it’s still sad and difficult to face this. The odds are against me and rejection is the most likely outcome. Even if H has feelings for me, too, he’s likely to ignore them and focus on a couple of things that would make me an inappropriate choice in his eyes – the fact that his family wouldn’t approve of me and the fact that I’ll be a divorced mom of 4. I’m not looking for him or anyone to be a step-parent but it’s still a lot of baggage.
I mean, it’s hypocritical of me, but I don’t feel like dating other parents or being a step-parent myself. Can’t fault anyone else that feels that way about me.
I’m going to remind myself there’s no shame in loving H. He’s a wonderful person that deserves to be loved – a real life Faramir, and those are rare. I deserve to be loved, too, even if I’m not.
Somehow I can do this. Somehow I can deal with pain and loss and rejection and divorce and uncertainty and the feeling that reaching comfort and some kind of sustainable happiness is still so far away. God, I wish I were capable of looking at my life and feeling like I wasn’t staring down odds that are basically the equivalent of winning a lottery.
This is still better than settling for a life I hate. I deserve better than that, and the only way I will ever find better than that is to keep moving forward.